Learning to code?

I have been reading a lot of articles lately about how marketers, especially small business marketers, need to learn how to code. This strikes me as odd. That is like saying if you drive a car, learn how to be a mechanic. If you are a frequent flyer, learn how to build an airplane. Learning to code may help you in some small way, but focusing on your area of expertise is far more beneficial than learning a tangential skill.

The argument for learning to code usually is something along the lines of being able to make small changes to your websites without having to reach out to a developer, or being able to effectively communicate your strategic requirements to developers. The reality of the matter is that your website is either so big and complex you will not want to touch it and probably would not be able to anyway given business rules, or so small that you are using a system that makes it easy to update without knowing code. The majority of developers today are able to take direction in plain English, and translate them into a finished product without your needing to understand the code.

Learning to program is not likely to make you into the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg either. Sure, both were good programmers, no doubt, but they hired even better programmers to carry out their vision. Their focus was on building and growing their business, not on coding. There are just as many examples of successful business pioneers that know nothing about coding (probably more).

Do not misunderstand me, learning to code can be a useful skill for small business owners. I know how to code and have a good understanding of how databases and computers work. A true coder though, is specialized and has a deep knowledge in programming. I see this all the time with my own business. Good programmers are able to take input from clients and turn it into something amazing.

As a small business owner, you are much better off focusing on growing your business than learning to code. Picking up some HTML might be of some limited value to you, though it is more likely building your network and honing your business strategy would be more so.  Leave the coding to the programmers.

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